February 6

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 48

After sharing what they have learnt, the group retires to bed, where they have strange dreams. Enizeag dreams of a place called Githzerai – a monastery that floats in space on the edge of a chaos vortex. Merri dreams of fire and lava, a place of industry and pain. Elo dreams of a throne room, of Drakemar and Archon Vaul.

The next day they figure out what they are going to do. Merri sticks out way too much as she is, so they decide they need to get something to alter her appearance. At the same time, Elo remembers to her chagrin that they are still technically employed by the empire. If they can get new papers then maybe Merri won’t have to alter her appearance too much, if at all, and they won’t have to skulk around trying to find a way into the mountain – they can just go through the front door.

So they set out first to find some kind of spell or makeup that will disguise Merri, and come across a theatrics store, where Merri purchases some beard bleach, fake robes and grey face paint. While she is doing that, Elo and Zege go to the local Empire Embassy building and speak to the ambassador. They tell him they have been sent from Toreguard, by their Emissary, to speak to the Dragon. The ambassador grumbles about not being given any notice, and they apologise, but he re-does their papers and takes note Darajar, Alphonse and Lorcian’s deaths.

Elo and Zege then return to the shop to pick up Merri and return to the inn, where Elo has a little conversation about having to leave the kobolds and Auriana at the inn as she doesn’t want to risk any of them if things go south in the mountain. None of them are happy about letting her go off without them, but they understand, and she gives them enough cash to keep them in bed and board. With that, the group set off towards Wyrmholm proper.

After a few days of travel through an increasingly hot, dry and desolate land, they reach the mountain of Wyrmholm, the heart of the Drakemar empire. Merri looks around and recognises it as the place of fire and lava and pain from her dream. They are met at the drawbridge by a group of guards and a man who claims he is the dragon’s senechal. They are asked why they are there, and Elo gives the same gumph as before – that they were sent from Toreguard by the Emissary there with exciting news. The senechal nods, telling them that he will take them for a little chat before letting them attend the master. The guards are surprised, but he gives them an odd look and they capitulate.

They are lead through the mountain, surrounded by guards at all turns, to an ante-chamber where they are offered food and drink. Again, the senechal asks what they have to offer that’s so important they see the dragon, and Elo tells him that not only have they found this powerful child, who has expressed an interest in getting more powerful and thus would like to be apprenticed to the man in the golden mask, but they have gained the trust of, and a foothold in Fangthane, if the dragon would care to make use of it. The senechal gets mildly angry at this point, saying that the dwarves of Fangthane made their position very clear on the matter, and they have no need or desire to press the matter. Then he calms, and glosses over Darrius’s power instead focusing on Elo’s own new talents. She brushes him off, saying that these skills are nothing in comparison to her companions’, and the seneschal agrees slightly, turning now to Merri. He asks her what she thinks, and she mentions something about having come to seek her family – her real family, and the seneschal replies he’s sure the dwarves in his employ will be able to find something.

But first, the seneschal says suddenly, they should come and see the Empire’s latest find. Elo tries to excuse them, saying they have already taken up enough of the great man’s time, but he and his guards insist, so they all troop into the throne room that Elo recognises from her dream – giant cradle of a throne that stands empty, Vaul stood off to one side, and a giant crystal ball on a plinth to the other side. The man who claimed himself Drakemar’s senechal climbs up the steps and sits on the throne as he slowly changes back into the dragon. They talk and Darkemar tells tham that they really didn’t need to sneak around for the clay, he would have – and indeed is going to – give it to them freely.

Afterall, Toreguard is his latest aquisition and he doesn’t really want it to become broken goods. But, he says, after that, he wants their help to rectify a terrible wrong that has been done to the universe. Deep Sashelas, the elven God of the Water has been murdered by Gruumsh. The Orc god has removed the heart of the elven god, and they must use the remaining clay to refill the it. The dragon orders Vaul to go and grab some of the clay and bring it back up, then had it over to Meri. Vaul is confused, and the rest of the group are worried, but the dragon politely insists, so the golden-masked man does as he is told. As the clay is transferred to Meri’s hands, it begins to react, and the dragon smiles. She is given a jar to put the squirming clay into and tuck it into her pack. Darkemar then tells them that they should hurry if they want to save Toreguard, at which the group shuffle their feet a bit, and tell him they had a little incident, and they are not sure that, if they set foot in the city, they will be able to get to the seal. The dragon huffs and hands a medallion over to Elo, saying it contains his essence, and when worn will speak out a set phrase that will allow them to move freely and basically makes her one of his emissaries. With that they take their leave.

Two days later, they return to the Happy Gnome, to collect the kobolds, Orianna and their wagon. They sleep the night and next morning discuss how they can return to the Toreguard quickly. By air is the quickest, really, but they dismiss it as untenable given that they would only be able to send one person via Auriana, and they do not want to split the group. Then Merri remembers these things called ‘airships’ – Zege agrees with her, and Elo is confused. She goes outside, and takes a look around, and spots in the next town over a huge spire from which seemingly floats what looks like a galleon. She points it out to Elo who decrys it as being unnatural, but Elo is overruled and they make their way towards that town.

After maybe a day and a half of travel and faffing, they climb up the spire and book passage aboard the Half Spear, owned by a Captain Wizknockle and his Second-in-Command, Clunk.

Bright copper rivets, and cogs aplenty,
Spiraling coils, and whisks are all dainty
Sommel flanges, and things that cause friction and spring
These are a few of my favorite things

The Captain tries to charge them 2Dk a head, plus an extra 4 for the cargo, but Elo decides to try and use the medallion on him in order to reduce the price. Before she does so, she does a detect evil on it, and nearly gets blinded, but as she looks away and towards the ship, she notices another magical presence there. They board, and the ship sets off to Toreguard. At Auriana’s instance, they go and check out the other magical presence that Elo saw, and it turns out to be an elemental. The engineer gleefully advises her that the elemental powers the ship through indentured servitude, and they run them until they die of exhaustion. Elo is fuming, but can’t see a way to free the poor thing without breaking the laws of the ship, and the ship’s home berth.

So they travel on to Toreguard, the ship traveling at in immense rate, and reach Toreguard around mid-afternoon. Undead and unholy things cluster in the air, and the ship makes use of a ‘holy cannon’ that forges a way through the mess so they can disembark just outside the gates. Said gates open, and the emissary stands there with a phalanx of guards, glowering at them. Elo demands they be let in, on orders of the Dragon himself, and puts on the medallion. The emissary glares while the medallion speaks it’s peice, but they are admitted into the city, where they rush over to the wizard’s tower.

At first the guards on the tower are reluctant to let them in, but when they say why they are here, they are lead into a basement where there is a second opening of the portal. Meri focuses her will and energy, as the others protect her and help to block out the sounds of chittering demons, and slowly, slowly the clay ripples and spreads out, covering the hole. As it touches the edges of the hole, it seems to grip them, and pull, and, with a flash of light the portal is sealed forever. In it’s place is a perfect circle of grass and small flowers.

Meredith Gruksdottir, savour of Toreguard, slumps forward with a nosebleed. The others rush to attend to her – Elo heals her and Zege offers a mug of blessed, strong, dwarven ale. While they are all knelt on the floor the door opens and a mage comes through, gaping and gives a cheer that the portal is now closed. He demands they go see the council, and they snap at him, saying Meri needs a minute, goddamnit. When she is recovered they leave the tower and go outside into the street. They are mounting up on their wagon to head to the council, when they spot an elf with bleeding eyes.

They talk to him, and find out he is a devoted of Deep Sashelas, who has taken his own eyes in despair at his god’s death. Zege tells him not to worry, there is hope, and they heal him. He asks how is that possible, and they tell him they have magic with can revive his god. He begs them to go to the temple of Corelion Lerathion, which is where the devout of Deep Sashelas have gone, and tell them that there is indeed hope. They agree, given that it’s on their way to the council buildings, so off they trundle and arrive at the steps of the Elven temple.

Inside is a mess – devoted are self-mutilating, wailing and in some cases actually gnashing their teeth. Zege announces that they just fixed the hole in the city, they can also restore Deep Sashelas to life, and fix the balance of the universe. The devoted stop their wailing, and look towards him with tentative hope. A few want to know how, but they are called away by the priests of Corelion, who tell them there is something they must see.

They enter a back room where a crystal ball sits on a plinth. A red eye floats in the glass, and looks right at Elo as they walk in, and asks her how she’s getting along with their deal. She shrinks back slightly and says he’s been a bit busy. He says it hardly mattered now – Gruumsh has found himself a fun new acolyte one that helped him kill Deep Sashelas and take the waters of the planet for his own. Some other things are said, and Merri demands that the cover be put over the crystal ball. They speak to the priests of Collenion, and tell them they have a plan to fix Deep Sashelas. The elves tell them that it seems that an orc called Gorack Shar is the moral behind all of this – having lead his party into the Elven racial plane, murdered everyone in sight and dedicated their deaths to Gruumsh. That group has now taken up residence in some seaside town, and is currently butchering every elf they can find to give Gruumsh more power. Worse than that, there has been some kind of schism in the followers of Sashelas – some have turn to wailing and mutilation to cope, while others have hailed Gruumsh as their new deity and leader. Currently, say the Elves or Corllion, they are getting reports that the creatures of the sea are turning on everyone they can find, and there is widespread panic and murder and looting. The group absorb this troubling news, again reassure the elves that they can fix things, and carry on to the council chambers.

They are lead into the main council room, to find it is packed and silent. They are greeted by the General, who tells them that they did a good job, and that the undead creatures outside the walls have now turns away and gone north. The General then thanks them on behalf of the city and it’s people – if not it’s leaders. It is implied that many of the council members are not happy, and they assume that it’s because of the station incident, and their being allowed to wander freely in the streets. The general ask what they are going to do now, and they tell him that they need time to rest – Merri needs to recuperate her strength – and then they will return to Wyrmholm to deal with the dead God incident. The general thanks them again, and tells them they are dismissed. As they leave the chambers, a tidal wave of sound follows them, as the silent room becomes awash with shouting lords and ladies.

They reach the street, and Elo says she should probably go and see her Mother, and let the old dear know she’s still alive. Merri says she needs to have a word with Him upstairs, and Zege says he will accompany her, as afterwards he needs to go have a chat with Orock of the Plot Hook, and so they part ways.

Elo goes to her Mother’s home, and introduces her to the disciples of the vassal, and then gives her mother a short rundown of what she has been up to the past few weeks. The kobolds get a wee bit excited, and Elo has to explain that Oakrose isn’t her birth mother, but her adopted one – the woman who cared for her and her brothers when orcs destroyed their villages in the Forest of Night eleven years ago. She goes on to tell her Mother about becoming a paladin, and introduces her to Auriana, who assumes her true form. It all proves a bit much for her mother, who faints. She hunts around for her brothers, to get one of them to watch their mother and after one of them is overcome as well, Elo decides it’s best if she and her entourage leave.

Meanwhile, Merri and Zege have gone to the temple of Moradin so she can have a word with Him upstairs, and try and figure out some of what has been going on. She is greeted warmly by the high priest, but he sobers when she asks to go into meditation with her God. The priest says that Moradin is a bit busy, and can’t take any calls at the moment, and when Merri is confused by this, he goes on to explain that the dwarven god is currently holding the universe together.

February 4

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 47

After another day of traveling they arrive at Fang. It is a busy market town, but there is a heavy presence of grey dwarves who have imposed their own heavy work ethic on the local populace.

(It was not covered, but one assumes the lady who was rescued was sent on her way with her goods at this point.)

As the group make their way into the town – having decided to spend the night in proper beds, rather than sleep on the wagon or the ground – they hear the pitiful cries of person asking for help. They look over and see a curious person – shortish, very hairy with a pointed face, like a weasel. Those who went to Khul the first time around think maybe it’s like the badger and rat people they met before, so they pull the wagon over to him, and Elo hops down to check on him.

He greets her enthusiastically, as everyone else has been passing him by none too kindly, and says that his master is missing, and he’s been trying to ask the travelers if someone might have seen him. She asks him who his master might be, and where and how long the man has been gone, and is surprised to hear him say that his master is Fai Lumindas. But the man won’t go into much detail here in the street, and he invites them into his emporium to explain. They park the wagon someplace safe (one assumes) and the whole company go into the emporium.

The man introduces himself as Jin Yong, and confirms he is a hengeyokai. He says that Master Lumindas left around three weeks ago, heading west to a great library on a personal quest, and that the below was his last message:

Dear apprentice, my search has been ill of late, I fear I have become someone’s quarry. I will write when I am able. In the meantime please continue your studies and keep the emporium as clean as you can.

He tells them that Fai left Toreguard long ago seeking information about the Darkemar empire, and that as his money ran out, he wound up there in Fang and decided to use his remaining cash to open the emporium to make some more money while he continued his search. Jin tells them that Fai took him as an apprentice, he thinks, because of the similarity in appearance to his old familiar, Mica. He says he’s not very accomplished as a wizard, and he’s been struggling a bit with keeping the place clean and tidy, but he’s doing the best he can. Elo tells him that Fai use to be a friend to her own mentor, and since they are also headed west, they will try and look for Fai and bring him back safely. Jin thanks her profusely.

Just at that point there is a hammering on the door. Jin panics, and says it’s probably the work inspectors, who are grey dwarves. Merri and the kobolds hurry to hide in the bedroom, while the others pretend to be shopping and Jin opens the door. The weasel-man has a brief conversation with the inspectors who ascertain that enough work is going on, no one is lollygagging, and they are satisfied with the the level of comerce happening and go away again.

Everyone breathes a sigh of relief, and Felix and Jin get into a heavy and long discussion about Fai’s latest experiment regarding pseudo creatures called squiggly-diddles, that like mating with just about everything, and have a tenancy to make all the offspring of these matings into living beings. As such, even making a cup of tea is a challenge, as Elo finds out. While the arcane magic users chat happily she nips out and gets some suppliers, and attempts to make them afternoon tea. This involves finding the kitchen, persuading the larder not to eat the supplies, wrangling the kettle and the crockery (at which Orianna is very skilled) and finally catching chairs to sit on. Just as they are about to settle down to the well earned meal, there is a kerfuffle from outside.

They all hurry to the window to see a group of orcs being lead into the square outside, chained and bound. they are lead onto a small stage, and a grey dwarf speechifies about how these orcs were defeated in battle and are now to be sold on, as is the tradition of ownership by combat. None of the group like this, and Elo is champing at the bit, wanting to just go out there and throttle the dwarf, but knows it’s a bad idea, especially considering that in this part of the world, that’s the law. However, she says thinking out loud, the orcs are only bound and beaten – not broken. While she can’t free them, or buy them (at 200gp a head, she doesn’t have nearly enough cash), there is nothing to say she couldn’t accidentally leave a healing potion near them, so they can free themselves. At the very least, they will be able to go to akeron with honour.

She takes Felix, and a donation of very powerful healing potions from Jin, and they sneak out and pass the potions to the boss orc. He thanks her, and asks her name. When she gives it, he says he will remember her, and asks Gruumsh to bless her (at which she pulls a slight face). She accidently opens his magically binding manacles, and he casts a fireball at the head dwarf, under which cover she and Felix sneak back. There is a massive fight that slowly dies down as night settles in, and they finish their meal and retire to bed.

The next day, they make their farewells to Jin, promising to keep an eye out for Fai, and set off again. A few more days of travel bring them to the Daggerspine, a narrow pass that skirts around either side of a spike of rock. As the wagon rolls over the plateau before the spike of stone, the wheels crunch and squeak, and on looking down they see that what had been assumed to be rock, was in fact bleached and picked bones. As they roll on, there is a rumble in the distance, and across their path runs the skeleton of some monstrous beast. while they are distracted, there’s a whistle of something traveling at speed and a massive crossbow bolt lodges in the ground in front of them.

They’re not the undead, they’re living impaired.

Elo calls a halt, and they are approached by some guards who ask who they are, what their business is, and where their tithe is. They reply they are traders, coming to sell undergarments, and what tithe? The guard assumes they are new-comers and says that they can either leave something young, female and plump tied to a post, and indicates it, or they can climb the Daggerspine and plead their case to the Lord at the top. The guard says either way, they must make their choice by sun-down or the tithe will be taken twice-over with no choice about whom it is. They decide to plead their case to the Lord in the Spine given they have time.

The group leaves the wagon and the kobolds, and climbs the spine (first using some of the bone dust to whiten Merri’s beard – just in case) to meet with the Lord. Felix explained the situation and the Lord agrees that they can pass. Grateful they don’t have to abandon a pony, they carry on through, but before they leave, get to see exactly what makes the bones that litter the approach of the Spine – those that don’t pay the tithe are shot down by those huge crossbow bolts.

They travel on into the empire – a lush looking place with citrus orchards, and exoctic foods grown in glass houses – and as night draws on find themselves at a coaching inn called the Happy Gnome. It’s a busy place, but they are able to get rooms and board while Felix is entranced by a nubile young gnome who is their waitress. As they dine they keep their ears open and tidbits of information are gleaned through the chatter of the evening.

Darrius overhears something about a traveling mage having been captured and imprisoned by the empire (who they assume to be Fai), and shares this with the group. Merri overhears that something special has been found in the ‘basement’ of the stronghold, and with fear, recounts this back to the others, wondering if it might be the clay. Elo hears about the Dragon’s new apprentice – one Archon Vaul – who wears a mask of gold, has the Dragon’s ear, and is looking for apprentices of his own.

February 2

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 46

The group go back to Merri’s parents and during dinner, they mention that they’re leaving in the morning, and are likely to be gone for some time. Merri’s Da asks where they’re heading, and they say to the west. He immediately jumps to the conclusion that she’s deliberately walking into Wyrmholm to put her head on a platter for the ‘bad’ side of the family. They get a lesson on dwarven ancestry and history, and Meri tells her Da that she absolutely plans on coming home after her quest is done, but there is the fate of the world at stake – not just Fangthane or Torguard. He relents, seeing she can’t be dissuaded and gets a bit weepy. They finish the meal in a sombre mood, and retire; Elo writes a letter home, and Merri and Darius play with Orianna.

The next morning, the wagon is loaded with both people and goods, an emotional farewell is said, and the group sets out.

They head first towards Sardath, the City on Stilts, and arrive five days later where they pick up a wagon train headed west. They stay one night on the banks of the lake, and set of with the caravan the next morning, where they meet some of their fellow travellers. A day into their journey to Zengis, Meri senses something odd. She glances around and spots a hunched over figure with a white beard in the seat of another wagon, who had the proportions of a dwarf. She doesn’t say anything to anyone else, but has a bad feeling about him.

After a few more days of travel, they are invited to the nightly feast; a great bonfire in the circle created by the wagons where people gather and share food. Meri is looking around again, and this time Elo asks who she is looking for.  Meri excuses the group from the gathering, and leads them away so they can talk. She tells them about the dwarf she spotted, and Elo does a Detect Evil at the wagon Merri says is his. Elowen sees five figures in the wagon, one who is definitely a bad guy, a little taller than the others. She describes what she has seen, and Oriana says it sounds like a Durzagon – half grey dwarf, half fiend. They were clearly having some kind of meeting, and Oriana says she can sneak over, being on her cat form, but Elo won’t let her go alone.

They both sneak over, and overhear the dwarves speaking, essentially one of the dwarves telling their boss, the Durzagon, he had spotted a ‘mordahier’ – meaning Meredith. The speaker tells the others he thinks she is a cleric too, and the Durzagon says they should take her, and kill her in the name of Ladhugurger, and that Myurr will appreciate their offering. A second dwarf asks if they plan on taking her there and then, but the Durzagon says no, it would be better to wait until they reach Fang, as once she is in the embassy, they can kill her at their leisure and be untouchable, and the Order of the Grey Protector will help them. then there is some good natured ribbing, and Elo and Oriana, feeling the conversation is over, leave.

They report back to the others what they have heard, and Elo says that from now on, no one is to go anywhere alone, and once they reach Fang, they are all staying in the wagon, no one is to leave at all. The others agree and they return to the fire and eventually retire for the night.

Just over a week or so of dull travel, they come to Zengis, where the wagon train stops for the night. In the morning a five wagons have left, but are replaced with ten more.

The next day, maybe half a day’s travel away from the town, there is an incident – the ogre hunters at the front of the caravan spot a wyvern. They bring it down, but screw it up, and the wyvern destroys several wagons before the ogre can bring it in. Elo takes pity on one woman, and offers her space on their own, now very cramped trailer. The woman is very emotional, and pulls out a dagger, her apparent intent to kill one or more of the ogres. Clearly being suicide, Elo asks her nicely to stop, and when she doesn’t the woodling trips and sits on her until rage gives way to grief, then escorts her to the wagon.

Elo leaves the woman in Merri’s care, and goes with Darius to claim compensation from the ogres. As they approach, they see one of the grey dwarves pass a coin purse to the ogre leader, and hurry away. The ogre leader offers no resistance to giving the woman compensation, and they walk away with the pouch of gold, a hunk of wyvern meat and a strip of its skin. When they get back to the wagon, Elo hands the items over, directing the kobolds to hang them out as she was instructed. The woman is astonished at the generosity, and shows Elo the purse contains several Drakemarie. Elo says she’ll swap those out for normal gold, and the woman – trader as she is – watches Elo like a hawk.

Tragi-greed: when the feelings gone, and you got no home, it’s tragi-greed

A couple more days of traveling pass, and they are a day away from Fang, when the dwarves seem to have abandoned their previous plan of trying to draw Merri out and kill her in the city, and instead go for a more direct approach. One injures a pony behind the group’s wagon, and another goes after some people sleeping in a wagon ahead of them. Elo isn’t quick enough though, and the two innocents are murdered, but she calls out to the grey dwarf, and challenges him. She tells Merri to keep an eye on Oriana and sends Darius with two clerics to help the pony, before firing a shot at the dwarf and charging into fight him. Unluckily for her, he gets a good hit in and sends her flying, but she regains her feet and they spar for a bit before he gets in another good shot, and renders her unconscious. Merri runs out, and heals Elo before parrying a blow herself. Darius sends in a storm of fire arrows while Elo regains her feet, pushes Merri behind her, and they work the dwarf down until he’s dead.

As they stand over his body, a brother dwarf comes over and asks who slew him. Darius is about to confess, when Elo speaks up saying it was her. The other dwarf nods and says they were more of a match than the Durzagon had suspected, and he leaves them be to bury his brother and the other two innocents.

As they prepare to move on, the group overhear conversation between the durzagon and his minion saying they will move on to route and rally in Wyrmholm.

January 8

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 45

With the murder knight dead, and being buried, Merri takes elo back inside and tells Darrius to go and find Felix, who doesn’t know that the duel is over (as far as they know).

Darrius sets out and on his way he hears oddly child-like singing. He goes to investigate and finds a little girl who chats to him quite happily, introducing herself as Orianna, and says she’s looking for a biiiig shiny. Darius has no idea what she’s talking about and says that he’s looking for Felix, but after he’s done that she should come back to the monastery with him because it’s not safe for her out here. She says she’ll be fine because she’s a dragon, and with that she concentrates really hard, and in her place suddenly is a golden dragon wyrmling, about the size of a horse. She says she’s going to help him find Felix, so he can help her find her Big Soul Shiny. She scoops Darius up and flaps towards the castle, and they spot Felix hurrying along. Orianna goes into a dive and snatches up a confused Felix.

She banks, has a little wobble and crashes outside the monastery. Felix and Darius are shaken, but fine, but she has a cut on her tail. Merri and Elo rush out and while Merri heals they dragon’s tail, Elo sooths her. Elo and Orianna speak, and suddenly Orianna gasps and says ‘I have found my shiny!’ and gives Elo a draconic hug – wings and all. Elo is confused, and Orianna tells her the little dragon felt Elo become a paladin, and that she was called by the universe to come and help the halfling on her journey. Elo isn’t sure as the dragon is very young. She seeks council from Vesper, who says it’ll be okay. He suggests that she ask Orianna something, as a sort of proof, so Elo asks her why the dwarf was on fire. Orianna tells her that was because he wasn’t ready to meet his god yet, he didn’t have enough faith, so when St Cuthbert appeared to Elo, he caught on fire as inadvertent divine punishment. Elo agrees then that Orianna can come with them. Then the group decided that basically they’re done here, so all that’s left is to say farewell to the Bishop and leave.

They go and say goodbye to the bishop who is resting, and he gives them some words of encouragement. With that, they take their leave and set out. They travel across the desert to some hills and swamps, where Orianna says she can sense that the portal to the Plane of Earth is still open. They rest overnight in a den that Orianna makes them out of melting the desert into glass. During the night she wakes trembling, as a blue dragon sniffs around their den. Zege wakes Elo up just in case, but the dragon leaves them be. Elo takes her watch and hears the dragon talking to a fellow some way away, where they comment that they are not suppose to harass the travelers, but one decides to meddle anyway, and incites a few troglodytes to go and hassle them. Fortunately it is near dawn, so the magic users have all their spells. Underestimating the troglodytes weakness, Elo gets Orianna and Felix to stun them, which incapacitates them, all meaning the rest of them were readied for nothing. Since it’s morning, they tie the troglodytes up and set off again. Within the day they come across the portal to Urth, passing through the elemental plane, and come out back in Fangthane.

By this time Orianna has assumed the form of a cat, and curls around Elo’s neck, but the oracle sees right through her, and cautions her to stay in that form while they’re in the dwarven stronghold. She assents, and the group thank the oracle for his help. He wishes them well, and assures them Moradin is on their side. They leave, and as pass through the temple orianna gets saucer eyes – after all, she’s still a dragon and dragon’s like gold. Since Merri needs some time to study the book, she and Orianna go to the Library while the others go and see about the Disciples of the Vassal.

Meri reads the book, with the help of a cypher book and Orianna, and she discovered that while it’s theoretically possible for anyone to mold the god-clay, only those with a certain spark in them can wield it to it’s fullest and truest potential.

Meanwhile Elo is talking to her kobolds and explaining that she changed while she was away, and she doesn’t think that she is going to be able to stay with them any longer. They are saddened, but then Cragspine asks her if she will perform the test on them, because he feels that maybe there is a chance for them to remain with her. She uses one of her new powers and tries to Detect Evil on them, but finds none and is happy that she can still keep in association with them. With that they all go to Merri’s Uncle Snorri’s pub, and wait for Merri and Orianna there.

13 kobolds, a gnome, a human, a woodling, a half-orc, a dwarf and a dragon all walk into a bar. That’s the whole joke right there.

Eventually Merri and Orianna return, and the group discus how they are going go about getting from Fangthane to Wyrmhom. It’s a journey of some 900 miles, across perilous, freezing terrain. They will have to skirt the Icefinger Mountains, make their way through Stormdrake Pass, and travel through the mountains to the DracoVamp’s home. They decide it would be best to head to Sardath first, and try to pick up a trader caravan for safety. With that decided, they go about setting up for the trip; purchasing a wagon and horses, making sure there will be enough food for them all, gathering ammo and trade goods and finally making their farewells.

January 6

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 44

Fortunately, before the strange creature (who, at some point, has introduced himself as Turray Lok) can get his spell off, Felix is hit with arcane inspiration and he Dispels the magic that Lok is weaving.

Sadly he is no match for the creature, and Lok manages to do something hinky to Elowen. She feels a bit wobbly, and weak, like she no longer has the capabilities she once did. To make up for his failure, Felix throws up an arcane shield, and moves in front of her, while Merri steps forward and tells the ground to turn into sharp spikes of stone. The quazitis – fiendish minions of Lok’s – all die but the monster-bot remains. Darius panics and brings down hailstones from some arcane place to hammer at Lok, and while it does hurt the creature, it shrugs off the cold damage it might otherwise have suffered. At this, the Allmancer rushes forward and engages Lok in melee combat, while Merri summons a golden eagle to harass Lok to keep him from casting anything further at Elo. Unfortunately the robot ignores both of them, and instead casts at Darius, making the poor kid suffer the same as Elo. The monster so flanked, Felix and Elo sneak closer to him so she can try and sneak attack, but that doesn’t work very well – her shots going wide in her weakened state. Felix turns the dirt around Lok into mud to cause him difficulties.

The mud does not have spell resistance.

Darius begins to cast his halestorm spell again, but suddenly realizes, if he does, the Vespus will be killed. The combo-fighter shouts at him to take the shot anyway, and so Darius does, killing the Eagle and Vespus, and hurting Lok a bit. They continue fighting in this manner, whittingly the robot down so he sways and is blooded – Ichored? – when the bishop comes marching in.

We’ll stop bothering the dead, when the dead stop bothering us! They should stay put, otherwise it’s just plain rude.

He tells Lok to go back whence he came, and screaming, the kollyrut, is forced back through a portal, they assume into the pit. The Bishop then gathers them up and says he’s sorry for sending them down there alone; if he had realized the powerful evil that lurked down here, he wouldn’t have sent them at all. The group shrug and insist they could have taken it. Remulos is still annoyed, and goes to fully resurrect Vespus. Meredith grabs the book from where it has fallen when Lok was cast away, and Felix cheekily asks if he may take a gander. This earns him the full blown glare of both Merri and Elo, who tell him it is for the cleric’s eyes only. He backs down and the group is taken back to the monastery by the Bishop.

Remulos rests a moment, and yes, they could maybe have taken it, but the important thing was to get the book away from both Lok and Darkhide. He then rises and looking at both Elo and Meri, says he has to talk to them about their mission. He leads them down into a hidden crypt, telling them that the reason the monastery has remained here is because of this place – it is filled with the remains of many holy warriors, Paladins of Pelor. He walks over to a chest under an effigy of the god, and pulls out some equipment. He holds it out to Elowen, which surprises her, and says it would be remiss of him to send her back out into the world improperly equipped. Elo is surprised, thinking the old man had been talking to Meri all along – after all she is the key here. She thanks Remulos as he goes to another chest and pulls out a shield, and she says she doesn’t use those. He just gives a wink and and tells her she may do well to take it anyway. Again, she thanks him, and he takes a seat on the chest below Pelor. Remulos motions for her to come and attend him, so she hands the gear to someone else and steps forward.

He asks her what she use to do as a profession, and she tells him she was a watchman in Toreguard. He nods, and says that makes sense. They talk about her position in the world, and about how she has garnered such interest from various deities. He then asks her if she is willing to go a step beyond – to follow a stricter code, to hold herself to a higher standard. She says she is willing to take that next step – she says she’s always going to be a watchman at heart, but since her watch has increased, so too must she become a better watchman. He nods satisfied, and says he’s surprised she’s gotten away with not being knighted this long. He bids her kneel and says he is pleased to bless her in Pelor’s name, and as she rises, he announces her as Lady Elowen, Paladin of the Light.

As Elo helps the old man back up stairs, Meri explains to the other’s that Elo basically got a promotion at which point Felix says he needs to add Pelor to the list of gods who seem to have placed bets on Elo.

They sleep and wake the next morning, and while eating breakfast they hear someone shouting from outside. They peak out, and see a fighter in full plate armour coated in some kind of crimson lacquer, sat astride a warhorse. He’s ranting and raving about how anyone in the monastery needs to come out right away, or else he’s going to just come in there and kill them all. Merri tells them that the device on his shield is a symbol of Erythnul, the God of Slaughter, and that he seems to be a rare thing indeed – he’s a paladin of that god – a Murder Knight, essentially. Felix wants to hide on top of the barricades, and take potshots at the Knight and his cohorts, but Elo won’t allow it. She tells them to wait there and she will go have words with the man. Felix then ponders if the Knight has the permission of the blue dragon, at which Elo says they might be able to work with that.

Elo indeed goes and speaks to the man, who drops off his horse to confront her. He Admits that he does not have the Dragon Queen’s permission to be there, and moreover he plans to kill her when he is done with the monastery. On hearing this Felix sneaks out of the monastery intending to head to Castle Holgar and tell the blue dragon this. Meanwhile Elo asks the knight very nicely to leave, and when he won’t she says they will stop him. The knight can clearly sense that she is now also a Paladin, and offers a deal – if she can best him in single combat he’ll go away. She accepts, putting on a brave face. They fight and it comes right down to the wire, with Elo luckily getting in the last swing. She beseeches him to quit, but he won’t have it, and she slays him, then weeps. Merri rushes out to comfort her, and they re-enter the monastery while the guards deal with his body, and the ex-Knight’s cohorts scatter.

December 28

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 43

The group heads off to the monastery, and find it is all barricaded up with ruble, making a very small path they are forced to walk down. Elo and Zege are suspicious, but they have little choice. Half way along the path they see and hear people drawing weaponry, and Elo and Merri pull their own in case, but Merri can see the symbol of Pelor on some of the guards and cautions Elo not to fire first. They call out and try to convince the men they are friend, no foe, but the guards aren’t having any of it. Suddenly though there is a commotion, and a man clearly some kind of high priest of Pelor jumps out and yells at his men not to attack, because godsdamnit, can’t they see these people are true and just?

The man welcomes them in, and introduces himself as Bishop Remulos of Pelor, the last bastion of civilization in the forsaken city. He apologises for his people, saying they haven’t had a lot of cause to trust anyone recently. He leads them into the ruins of the temple, and they see that it is incredibly run down and dilapidated. He says they don’t have much to offer, but they will gladly offer what they have. They see there are bed rolls and cots crammed into the main hall of the monastery’s chapel, and rubble everywhere, and shocked they ask what the hell happened here? The Bishop tells them that there was a war, and the city was overrun by bad people who turned Shakuru into the City of Beggars. Things quieted down some, after the last adventures passed through. A woodling in fact, he says, much like Elo. Her name was Dalliance, he thinks, and Elo starts. Surely not Alexis Dalliance or Toreguard? she wonders out loud and he thinks that was she. Remulos says Alexis took their foundling, Fai, with her when she left Shakuru. Fai left with the Bishop’s blessing, and asks Elo – if she has knowledge of Alexis, does she also have knowledge of Fai? Remulos is keen to know what happened to his foundling son. Elo haltingly tells him what happened in the city, but she can’t answer his question fully because Fai left Toreguard before she was really paying much attention to anything aside from her mentor, and as far as she knows no one has had any contact with him for maybe five years. Still he thanks her for this information, and tells the group that just before they showed up the ghouls and ghosties and unquiet things of the night had begun stirring again. Then the Dragon Queen showed up and started to make her nest. They are the last bastion of goodness in a sea of evil, Remulos tells the group.

He seems weary, but as they stand there, Elo’s sharp little ears pick up the sounds of people being horribly butchered outside. She cries out in alarm, her hand going to her weapon. They all turn to the door to see shadowy beings walking silently through. Their transparent blades pass through the living, like a knife through butter, as the people scream. The Bishop steps forward, thrusting out his holy symbol and commands the shades to turn aside, and they do – permanently shattering into dust, and blowing away on an ethereal wind. The threat over, Remulos’s nose begins to bleed, and he wobbles. His men catch him and the guard asks him to take a rest – the Bishop has been Turning for three days straight with barely any rest. The group is about to offer their assistance, when a sinister voice comes from the shadows.

“That is very impressive, and you’ve done well to keep it up,” it says, “but all things come to an end, and in fact, I think I shall end you now!”

The group fan out to protect the Bishop. Given it’s such a small space, Zege does not have far to go to meet his foe. He steps up and gives the man a couple of good wallops, and Merri follows up while Elo sneaks around between a pillar and a bed, and shoots him. Her shot is just and true, and it drives right through his throat, killing him instantly. She is surprised, to say the least, and is a touch annoyed, because she wanted to question him.

“Something that would be completely impossible now. Congratulations, by the way,” says a shadowy figure dropping down next to them. Instantly they all have their weapons pointed at him, and he allows Elo to disarm him as an act of goodwill. He introduces himself as Vespus, and goes on to explain that he is from an order that call themselves the Allmancers. They are an order of lawful people who, in seeking to protect Shakuru from darkness, decided their only recourse was to carefully tread the paths between many walks of life. He tells them he has trained in the disciplines of Fighter, Sorcerer, Paladin, Rogue, Monk, Cleric, Ranger and Wizard. However, their foes, lead by Urithnal, did the same thing and created a bastardized version of their order, of whom, the man bleeding out on the floor was one of.

Vespus also mentions the unquiet dead, and says he had been tracking the Chaotic Allmancer, because he hoped the dead man would lead him to the source of the unrest. He says that he thinks he has, because right after they showed up, the chaotic Allmancer came in here, while someone using a cane slipped into a big crypt muttering about a book.

The group panic, apologise to Bishop Remulos saying they must dash – world to save and all, and he blesses them as they leave. They rush out and down into the crypt, with the Allmancer in tow, but pull up short when they hear a conversation filtering down the bone-strewn corridors.

They hear someone talking to Darkhide, and it’s not a pleasant conversation. They seem to be arguing about who has the right to the book. The stranger claims his master has already granted it to him, but Darkhide says he will just take it anyway if it’s not handed over immediately. The stranger counters by asking what it feels like to have one’s own undead minions turned against them, and they hear the clicking of fingers and a wail from Darkhide. The dark mage curses the stranger and in a tinkle of magic, appears to have vanished. the group edge slowly forward, but the mysterious voice isn’t done talking. He chuckles at Darkhide’s vain incompetence, then tells his new minions to greet the other guests waiting in the corridor. The group stupidly look around before realizing they are the ‘guests’, as though the cracked door and wall filter a group of wraiths.

They fan out again. Zege and Merri step up, he lashes out a fist, and she Turns one of the wraiths, making it gibber in a corner. Darius and Felix hang back near the door and fire magical missiles at the unquiet shades, while Elo and the allmancer move around to flank, as the unTurned wraiths close the distance to cluster in front of Merri and Zege. They take out the wraiths in short order, and more on up to the next room.

The first thing they notice about the room is the creature stood in it, with it’s back to them. They spread out as it welcomes them.
It turns around and reveals itself to be some kind of half mechanical, half demonic, semi-organic being.
It sights Elowen and calls out to her, “You! This is all your fault, you meddling little woodling. Come here now!”
Elo is naturally confused – she has never seen this being before in her life, nor heard of anything like it – but she knows she doesn’t like it.
“Ah, no,” she tells it.
The creature frowns at her. “Ah,” he says. “You aren’t her. But your presence has the same feel to it as her. It was her that did this to me. Her fault. But my master, Muyrr took pity on me, and sent me back to this realm with a piece of him inside me, so that I can take my vengeance upon her! Now tell me where she is!”
Again Elo is confused, but getting angry. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“The one they call Dalliance! Tell me where she is!”
“Screw you. I’m not telling you anything,” she tells it. It starts to summon magic to it, saying it will make her tell him, and she yelps out that she doesn’t know where Alexis is. It pauses, conceding she is telling the truth, but with a wicked grin says that she will help him find Alexis. Elo tells the creature to go screw itself again, and it continues to grin, saying it will make her help it. At that point Merri and Zege both step in front of Elo and say, it won’t harm Elo – not while they’re around. The magic begins to charge again, and it’s grin widens as it says, “That can be arranged…”

I killed you by accident; you slipped, and tripped on my evil – Greg

December 23

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 42

While they are at the artificer’s place, Elo inquires about some magic rings, much like the ones that Daraja gave them, but without the hold person element. She keeps one +1 protection ring for herself, and gives one each to Darius and Felix. As she is waiting for Merri to finish changing into her new armour, she peruses the list of enchantments available. After checking her purse, she asks if someone could enchant her crossbow and make it holy. Ufgi calls up his a priestly colleague and the cleric set to. While this is going on, Darius feels like someone is calling his name and wanders out into the street, where he meets an odd looking fellow – a shadowy old man who leans on a cane. They chat, until a passerby notices him looking a little dazed and seemingly talking to himself. The kind passerby steers the youngling back into the workshop, and leaves him with Elo, who scolds him for wandering off. The kindly dwarf mentions taking him to see a cleric because the boy ain’t right, and Elo thanks him for returning darry to them. By this point Merri is out of the changing room, and the pair crowd Darrius like a pair of older sisters, demanding to know what the hell he thought he was doing, and why the passerby (now left) though he was a bit squiffy in the head?

Darry relents and tells them there was a strange old man, who said he served ‘the ruby lady’, that told him he had a destiny to fulfill and going on about how he’s a very powerful mage. Elo doesn’t know who the ruby lady is, but Merri recognises it as a term for the godess Weejass. she turns pale, tells Elo who the god is, who also turns pale as the pair of them figure out that it must be Darkhide trying to corrupt their little sorcerer.

Having paid up and finished their business, the group go to the closest pub, and find a quiet corner where they tell Darrius and felix all about Darkhide, his power and his possible machinations. The poor kid looks sicker and sicker with every explanation and the sisterly duo tell him that if the necromancer tries anything like that again – or even if anyone tries something similar – he’s to tell them no thank you, run the fuck away, and tell the pair so they can protect him.

With that, they consider that they must get everything sorted in far shorter order than they had previously allowed. No more time for dicking around. They consider that they are going to need to find another very high level magic user to send them to Khull, because they simply do not have time for a ship. Merri says that one of the high priests should be able to send them there, as the wizard did before, who sent them to southern Khull. They decide that they need to know exactly where they are headed before, actually going there, so head to the library to see Starlim Haneskeeper. Once there, Elowen flatters and promises biscuits to the head librarian if he can show them the maps they need. He chuckles and tells her while that’s not in the remotest bit necessary, he’ll accept them anyway. He shows them a map of Khull, and points out the location of Shakuru, and then he finds them a map of the city itself, pointing out the location of the cemetery where they will have to go to find the book.

They take a quick copy for themselves, and then Elo asks if he’s ever heard of a mountain filled with high-elves in the forest of night, as she can’t quite recall it’s name. He goes a bit pale and asks if she means ‘Mythrilmar’. She snaps her fingers, and says, yes, does he have any maps of it or where it is in the forest, then wonders why he’s looking a bit peaky suddenly. The old dwarf tells her a little bit about the mountain, and it’s history, and asks why she’s interested. It’s now Elo’s turn to look a bit sheepish. She says he might have had a chat with a certain god of Orcs, and maybe promised she’s take some vengeance on his behalf, so he would leave her city, and Titan, and never bother either ever again. Darius mutters ‘Pot, Kettle, black’, and she reminds him she was – is – a watchman, and it’s her duty to protect the city however she can.

Now knowing where they’re headed, they go back to Merri’s folks and Elo turns on the charm again, and asks for the biscuits for the librarian, and also mentions some tactical muffins to take to the priesthood in exchange for one of them casting a spell to send them over to Khull. Mrs Gruckdottir laughs and says that they’re on a holy mission – Moradin himself, among others, have endorsed their venture – so the priesthood should help them no matter what. Of course, she adds with a wink, the muffins will help. She tells them not to waste any more time if they don’t have to, and sends them off to a temple with the promise of sending on the baking later.

They arrive thinking they’re going to be waiting a while to be seen, and longer even to be sent, but as soon as they are spotted, they are taken before a high priest who tells them they’ve been expected, and that the Oracle wants to see them. Nervously, they push Merri ahead to do the talking.

The oracle tells them it knows of their quest and is more than willing to send them on their way. He looks at each of them in turn and they see he has no eyes, but he tells each of them they have a grand destiny to fulfill, as well as their own personal destinies. His look lingers on Merri the longest, and he says she must be strong for the world to survive, and that her challenge will be great. But then he rallies them, and says as long as they all remain true and supportive she will prevail. He then turns and murmurs an incantation, and a shimmering light spreads under an arch, between two effigies of Moradin. He announces the way is clear, and sends them on through.

They arrive in what seems to be a cave, and are confused, considering they were supposed to come out into a city of some kind. But Darius looks around in awe, and tells them they are on the plane of Elemental Earth. They stare at him confused, and he admits he does know how he knows it, but it’s true. They shrug it off to his being a sorcerer; after all, he’s already told them he’s not ever had any formal education (he can probably only barely read and write), but his talent for magic doesn’t rely on books like a wizard so it seems only natural that there is a whole depth of unplumbed mystical knowledge buried in his skull. While they are standing there, being confused, they are slowly aware of a squelching noise coming closer, and they see a tide of gelatinous brown coming their way gurgling at them. Elo panics, pushing Darius behind her and draws her bow, but Merri steps forward motioning her to put it away. She makes some peculiar noises, grating her voice and grinding her teeth, and the non-newtonian mud puddle gurgles back at her. She says that it’s an paraelemental of  ooze and it lives here on this plane they call ‘Urth’. It’s friendly, she says, and it’s going to take them to meet it’s boss. The others are confused again, but shrug it off as a Dwarf thing (You won’t believe these 10 things only Dwarves will get!), as the mud puddle oozes away and Merri follows it.

They are led to a huge chamber in which sits a statue of a giant of some kind on a massive stone throne. They pause on the threshold, and then it moves, opening it’s eyes and making a noise like two continents grinding together. Merri answers it in that same grating tongue and begins to walk in. The stone giant coughs a bit and says in a gravelly voice: Rock and Stone, travellers. Do come in.

He goes on to apologise for the rumble of it’s voice, stating he hasn’t has cause to speak common in a very long while, and asks why they’re here. Merri tells him that they’re just passing through; that they are on their way to Khull to find a book. The giant nods and says: ah yes. So you are they then. Well come along with me, you’ve been expected.

“It seems like everyone but us knows what we’re about to do. Would be nice to be clued in too…” – Elo, on predestination.

He leads them through the caverns and tunnel of Urth, where they pass a host of curious xorn-lets and their mother, along with other elementals curious about the strangers in their home. Eventually the Stone Giant stops, and they are shown another rippling pool of light, under an arch, next to which stands an Azer. Elo asks if his hair is supposed to be on fire, to which he glowers and tells her yes, that’s just his hair. As they stand there, thanking the stone giant and giving their goodbyes, Merri feels a tug on her sleeve. She and Elo look down to see a cheeky xorn hoping for some yummies. Elo has some bloodstones on her, and with an acquiescing look from the xorn’s mother, she gives one to the cheeky xorn, and with a purr of thanks, it zips off, high on rock-candy.

They exit the plane of Elemental Earth, and find themselves tumbling down the side of a hill. they slither down and land in a bit of a heap at the bottom of the hill. But before they can really get their bearings and stand up, they find themselves being poked at with crude spears, and on  looking up, they see the yipping faces of some lizard-looking creatures. They carefully stand and offer no threat. Looking around they see six of these lizard types, all decorated with strips of leather and bone necklaces. One pokes Elo and she tries to talk to it, but it just gets angrier, as she gets annoyed, but she is forced to back down when it produces the most gods-awful stench. Their captors make an ‘about turn’ signal to them, and the group get the ideal they are being led somewhere, so they set off.

After a short walk they find themselves being lead into a forested camp, at the center of which there is a big lizard that lounges on a crude throne of sticks and rocks. It is wearing a shiny blue cloak that seems to be made of scaled skin, and has shimmering swords around it’s waist. It grunts something at them, and they don’t say anything. It grunts again, twice and out comes another creature with a feathered headdress and other accoutrements that mark it out as a shaman of some kind. It yips at them, and pokes darrius who yells ‘We don’t know what you’re saying!’ at it. The shaman backs off, clears it’s throat and then in a croaky voice says “Ah, you speak common, yes? Well then,” it adds to their nods, and spreads its arms, “welcome to dinner.”

“And what’s for dinner?” asks elo, watching the big lizard, and slowly removing a dagger from her leg sheath.

“Well, you are of course,” the shaman says. “Though you’re a bit scrawny. The hunters could have done a better job…” while it is distracted, Elo turns and throws her dagger into the throat of the big lizard which stands up, gurgles and dies. Instantly there is uproar, and the creatures start forward, but the sharmen yips at them to stay back. He prostrates himself, as do the other creatures, and begs them not to kill him or his people. Elo stands over him and agrees, but demands the big lizard’s fancy cloak and swords. The shaman blubberingly agrees, so she goes to retrieve her dagger and is in the process of removing the cloak and the swords when there is a ‘Whumph, whumph, whumph’ noise from somewhere overhead. She looks to the others; they have heard it too, and Merri at least realizes what it sounds like. Elo finishes stuffing the items in her pack, and they all start to run, the creatures long having scarpered into the forest.

There is a heavy thud behind them, as something lands, and the crackle of energy as lighting sizzles into the trees surrounding them. They glance back to see a blue dragon roaring at them. They run faster, but it takes off and lands in front of them, loosing off another bolt of lighting. The group stop running, and stand petrified as the blue dragon comes pacing up to them. Elo gabbles out a respectful greeting, and it toys with them for a bit, trying to make Darius cast some magic, but the poor boy is a bit busy soiling himself so elo does a song and a dance and asks him to amplify it at which the dragon says ‘You can stop now. Please, tell her to stop.’ and then gathers them up in it’s claws and take them to it’s eyrie.

They are dumped on the ground, as the dragon calls to it’s children to not munch on them just yet. It then asks them to sit, which they do, and congratulates them on killing one of his tribal leaders. It enquires about their origins, and when they say Allansia, and the Pagan Plains it enquires about Old Red, who they say is very much alive. It sniffs Elo then, and asks what is that horrific stench coming from her. She says it’s probably troglodyte, and he say no, it’s worse, so she pulls out the Dagger, Telak’s Tooth. He recoils and asks what she plans to do with that, so they explain about the Dracovamp of Wyrmholm and Elo’s Very Terrible, Really Bad Plan to kill it by getting ate and stabbing it on the inside. The dragon graciously says it has merit, and that it is brazen. But yes, it’s a bit of a bad plan. It then asks them what exactly they were doing wandering around his territories? They say they are on their way to Shakuru. The dragon presses for information, and Elo says they have been sent for a book. What book? One made of skins, surrounded by demons. What’s it about? Don’t know, says Elo. The dragon isn’t sure it believes her, and offers them all sorts of shiny magic artifacts to tell it what the book is about and who sent them, but Elo insists they were sent by a noble with deeper pockets than the dragon, and they didn’t bother to ask what the book was about. They are simple mercs, she insists, doing their job well, and with discretion. finally the dragon relents in it’s questioning and tells them that Shakuru is now run by his mother, and tells them it will take them to Shakuru for a favour from Elo (since she is the one who won’t shut up). She counters, and says they can make their own way, but it points out they’re on top of a mountain. They’re not leaving unless it’s via a digestive tract. Elo relents, says she’ll add it to her Book of Debts – the ever mounting list of things she’s got to do for various powerful creatures. With that, the Dragon gives some orders to an older child, talks to his wyrmlings, and then tells the group to climb up on his back. With a few leaps and a powerful thrust of wings, he takes to the air, dives down towards the ground making Darius lose his lunch, and flies them to the City of Beggars.

He alights at the end of a long road, and leaves them to it, saying Mother is having a party, but he has sheep to acquire for the little ones. Soon after he leaves them, a man in liveried uniform comes up and asks ‘Dinner or guests?’ ‘Guests!’ they reply hastily, and despite their protestations, the man insists on escorting them to a large building. They enter and a full on shindig. Again they say they don’t need to go see the lady in charge, surely she’s busy, but the man insists, and not wanting to appear rude, they go and speak to her. Instantly they can see this is the Blue dragon’s mother – she wears a sapphire silk dress, and her eyes spark dangerously with blue lighting. They chat for a bit, and she tries to flirt with Darius, and Elo tells her not to. She asks why they’re here since they are clearly not local and her son dropped them off, and they say they don’t want to interrupt her soiree with business, it can wait. But again, she is insistent, and leads them to a balcony to talk. they tell her about the book, and she points out the crypt where it must lie, and says that can only be the place you want to go, because it’s the only place I’ve not cleared out yet. they agree they were expecting something a little more… ruinous and she laughs. She tells them that they are fully welcome to go and seek the book – they’ll be doing her a favour getting rid of the shades and demons that haunt they place. She offers to have rooms made up, and they thank her but decline saying they don’t want to take up more of her time. She shrugs and says there is a monastery with beds for travelers if they are going to be like that. With that she wishes them good hunting and a good night and leaves them to enjoy her party.

December 21

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 41

The rest of the group and the remaining kobold clerics are lead away to a garrison further behind the lines so that they can get themselves cleaned up. They eat and rest, and then, given the momentary quiet, Elo asks Merri to keep an eye on the clerics, because she needs to pop out for a minute. She actually intends to go and have a quiet word with her god (gods?), but Felix – who has come to the conclusion she has some kind of deathwish after her behaviour in the field – asks for a piece of her hair. She thinks this is a bit odd, and declines, but he protests he only wants it for scrying to ‘keep an eye on her’. What he actually means is that he wants to make sure she is safe, and not hurting herself, but it comes across as more than a little creepy, so while Elo gives him a disgusted look and slips off, Merri has a little chat with him about boundaries.

Elo finds a tiny chapel to St Cuthbert, and after introducing herself to the attending cleric, says she just wants to sit quietly and have a hopefully enlightening conversation with their God. She takes a pew, and asks St Cuthbert for guidance regarding this odd situation she’s gotten into. She wants to know if it’s even allowable for another god to claim ownership of her, while she’s still subscribed to her own chosen god, especially given they are so diametrically opposed. She wants to know what exactly she’s supposed to do with her kobold clerics. She worried about the future – about the direction of her life, about their quest to save the world, and about what’s going on in Toreguard. As she prays she has a vision.

Into the chapel comes a golden staircase which she ascends. At the top is a layer of cloud covering the floor, which she walks over to a waiting figure. It is St Cuthbert. She repeats her main question to him again, to which he says it can work, but she has to remember that according to the contract of faith she signed, she still belongs to him in the end – Body, Mind and Soul. She then presses about what she’s supposed to do with the clerics, and is given some fluffy answers. She starts getting annoyed with the elusive nature of his answers, and eventually he becomes angry with her as well. He steps backwards and unfurls his cloak. Under one arm appears a black robed skeleton with a scythe, and under the other is the kobold’s God. Death waves and asks if she has any mints on her, while Kutulmack explains to her question of ‘Why me?’, that on the celestial chess board he doesn’t have a very good seat, and no major playing pieces of his own, so if he wants a say in things, he’s got to steal his pieces from the other gods. She was taken off the board, so to speak, so he stole her, and put her back in play for his own ends. St Cuthbert then tells her she must make a choice, which she interprets as choose death, or chose Kutulmack. She essentially tells the Gods to go screw themselves with a rusty spoon, and says she will take the third option – which is really no option at all – to not make a choice at all. She turns and walks down the golden staircase back to the chapel, where he takes her seat again and the vision vanishes.

When she returns to her self, she goes to leave, but finds the attending dwarf ablaze. She puts him out and he is charred to a cinder. Dazed, confused, and troubled in her soul, she wanders into the street, telling a passing guard what happened. He looks concerned, and tells her she should get a pint, and he’ll handle this. She does so, and as she does she gets angrier at the gods, and decides it’s about time to get on with this saving the world malarky.

She walks into the pub to find that conveniently it’s the closest to the garrison as well, and that the rest of the group are there, plus one Kobold to keep an eye on things. On one hand it means they left the kobolds alone, but Elo isn’t mad, because on the other hand it means that they are free and clear to discuss things.

Elo takes them all upstairs to a private room, and lays out for Felix and Darius exactly what is going on, (part of) why they were in Fangthane to begin with, and where they are planning on going to next – namely to steal god clay from a draco-vamp, and maybe kill said dragon at the same time, take the clay back to fix the hole in Toreguard, and save the world. She says if they want out then now is the time to do it, because after they have rested and refueled then they are moving on again. Darius thinks it’s super cool and says he’s in. Felix considered that he’s always wanted to travel and agrees as well.

At that point in the conversation, just as they are calling for beer, Zege gets a funny look on his face. He say’s he’ll be back in a bit, and leaves. He goes outside and the group can hear him talking to someone. They crowd around the window to see him talking to a kobold. After a moment of introduction, where the kobold says he is the Fist of Kutulmack, they assume fighting stances and zege wipes the floor with the little lizard. Zege offers to let the Fist live, but he declines, saying this duel is to the death, his honour demands it. Zege complies with his wish, and kills him.

The group rush down to check on them both, and though Elo is angry, according to dwarven law, no wrong has been done. While the others go back to Merri’s parents’ place (where she learns she will be an older sister), Elo gets Zege to help her take the Fist’s body to the garrison and the Disciples.

Once there, the kobold clerics make arrangements for the body. They lay it out, and each take a huff of some burning herb. While they attend to the Fist’s last rites, they tell Zege a legend of a group of kobold monks simply called “the Way of the Fist”, and their leader, who always forsakes his name and becomes, the Dragon Fist. They tell Zege also of the destiny they have seen him fulfill – that he will fight all the Fists until he faces the Dragon Fist, defeating them all and taking their spiritual energy or ki, so he can defeat his nemesis.

Then they tell the pair about a far off land called Khul, and a place called Shukuru, City of Beggars. There, hidden under stone in the bounds of a monastic cemetery, there is a special book that is made of reptile skins and surrounded by demons. Elo says that’s very nice and all, but old books will have to wait – she has God Clay to steal and a draco-vamp to kill first. The kobolds tell her this can’t wait. If she doesn’t get the book, then she will fail in her mission. Elo, annoyed, asks what’s so damned special about this damned book? They tell her it is a book of secrets. Okay, and…? she pushes. And they are the secrets of the Gods, which will tell Merri how to use the God clay effectively. Oh, she says, maybe we will get the damned book first after all.

They leave the kobolds to tend to the dead monk, and return to Merri’s parent’s place, where Merri’s Da gives Elo her Dagger of Corrupted Gold, that she can use to kill the Draco-Vamp. She names it Telak’s Tooth. They have stew for dinner, then sleep and are treated to some peculiar dreams, and possibly in a few cases prophetic ones.

The next morning Merri’s Da tells her that her uncle Ugi the Artificer has her clerical armour for her, and she should swing by and see him. He says if they’re lucky he might have some odds lying around to give to some of the others, so they set of to see him.
He does indeed give Merri shiny new armour. He also gives a ring of bull strength to Zege, some bracers of armour to the mages, and let Elo have a play with a new crossbow he’s working on.

December 18

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 40

The party regroup, and try to figure out what to do next. The magic users are all for running the fuck away, but Elo won’t let them. She is insistent that even with the few utility spells they have left, they can find a better, more sneaky, way to get this done. They are so close to finishing off Torg, she says, they can’t leave now.

Then the kobolds, inspired by her words, have an idea. What are they, if not trap makers? They rig up a series of ropes and pulleys so that, when activated, several half broken columns, will topple on the building where the council meeting is taking place, crushing it and all those within. They are sure there are no other exists, and they even rig it so that at least one column will fall in such a way, as to block the entrance, and prevent anyone crawling out that way.

The trap set, all it needs is for someone to activate it. The kobolds argue about who should get that ‘honour’, but Elo puts her foot down. No one else is dying today, she says, so they have Felix cast ghost sound to amplify the group shouting obscenities at the council members (from a safe distance). It works, because someone opens the door, triggering the trap and causing the whole place to implode in a cloud of dust. The group start leave, having successfully fulfilled their mission and not wanting to hang around in the dust cloud. They are all pretty pleased with themselves until Elo and Felix’s sharp little ears pick up a sound of something happening that should not be – The shifting of rubble, as something underneath the pile starts forcing it’s way up through. Something that should have been dead.

Elo encourages everyone to start running, but looks back to see a figure that really should not be possible. Torg stands there, in full dark glory. He shakes his fits and rages, crying out that Darkhide, the Necromancer, has betrayed him, and has turned him into some kind of abomination. Merri also taking a look back curses and drags a confused Elo with her. They run as fast as they can, as the thing that use to be Torg rages behind them.

They do not slow down until they are at least halfway to the frontlines of the fight, and pause for a breather. Elo asks what the hell Torg is now, and she’s told by Felix, Merri, her clerics and Darius that it seems he is now a litch. When she understand what this means, she curses, a lot, and after they have taken a small nap, they carry on to the front lines.

“What’s a litch?” – Elo
“It’s like a death knight, but with more personality” – Felix

The fighting seems to be mostly over. No doubt both sides suffered greatly, but of the kobolds there is nothing to be seen. They have traveled maybe a day or so since killing the council, and it seems like once the orders stopped coming the kobold army lost their nerve and buggered off. They rest a while longer, and after a small argument involving how the dwarves will react to them rocking up with a bunch of kobolds, Zege, Merri and Felix head over to the Dwarven lines.

They announce they were somewhat successful, but there has been a bit of a hitch. They start to tell the guards on the line about Torg, but then one of the dwarves spots Elo and her clerics. the dwarf them wonders what happened to Elo and is told she’s waiting on the other side with some friends. The guard demands that they are all debriefed together, and Zege tries to explain that Elo won’t go for that, but the guard is insistant. Zege goes with the squad to collect Elo, Darrius and the Disciples so there are no accidents on either side.

Zege tells the guards to wait, while he and their officer go and speak to Elo. Darius is fine with the change, but Elo is reluctant, worried for their safety. She has come to be very protective of her little kobolds, even if she isn’t entirely clear on her situation, or indeed even happy with it. Still the guard is insistent, and says he gives her his word of honour that no harm will befall her kobolds while they are in his custody. She relents, with great protestation, and they all go back to the other side, collecting the others on the way through.

They are taken to a tent where they are told that Captain Bloodvein, head of the King’s Guard, will be out to see them shortly. Indeed he is, and along follows a bit of a surprise – the Low King himself greets them. There is a moment of outrage from the higher-ups at finding kobolds in their midsts, but Elo defends them and says she will personally face down anyone who tries to hurt her clerics. Captain Bloodvein backs down when the guard who brought them in gave his solemn vow the kobolds would not be injured.

The group give an account of their activities to the King, laying out for him the realities of having a litch around, and Cragspine says some very wise things which leads the King to look favourably upon him, saying that perhaps with his guidance the two of them can work out some kind of peace treaty between their peoples – something that probably has never happened before. The King continues speaking to Cragspine, saying he’d like to debrief the clerical leader alone. Cragspine assures Elo he doesn’t mind being taken in for questioning, but the King interjects, saying they have both misunderstood him. He wants to talk to the elder as an equal, and that he offers his personal guarantee that the kobolds will not be harmed while in dwarven lands. There is some outrage from the dwarves, but the King glares them down. Elo frets at the King, and he gets ansi at her – the pair of them coming very close to her getting thrown in jail for assaulting a royal – when Cragspine comes between them, and again says wise things to make them back down.

For the briefest moment there is peace on Titan and all is right with the world.
Then Cragspine speaks to the clerics and appoints (find my name!) to be the next leader, and imparts on him the necessity of keeping Elo safe, before being lead away to talks by the King.

December 15

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 39

The group, lead by Cragspine, walks somewhat cautiously along corridors toward where the Kobold leader says Torg is holed up. They find they are closer than they expected however, when they hear sounds of an argument from beyond a doorway. Incautiously, they pause to listen and the argument goes thusly:

Kobold 1 – “Why are we doing this? Why are we throwing all of our traditions away just to help this  man? We have stopped giving veneration to Kutulmack, he will turn his back on us!”

Kobold 2 – “Pah! We do not need Kutulmack any longer. Not when we have the power this man brings us”

Kobold 1 – *gasping* “This is heresy! Kutulmack will know of it, and he will make us all suffer!”

Kobold 3 – “Why are you doing this Torg!?”

Necromancer – “He does it for the same reason anyone might. He does it for power. He wishes to have dominion over that which has been denied to your people for so long. He wishes to crush the Dwarves. The dwarves have increased the power steadily, they have created weapons and armour. Why do you insist on staying grubbing in the mud, when you could have risen as their equals… No, their betters even. That is what I am offering you and soon I will be able to use your people to help me crush the dwarves once and for all. With them at my heels, and with Toreguard slowly coming under our control, we will soon-”

Kobold 2/ Torg: “No one cares about Toreguard… Wait, do you mean to say we are no longer partners?”

Necromancer: “No once you began to fail me. The dwarves have turned to adventurers to aid them. They are but five pitiful children, you should have been able to take them out easily, but they still persist! Instead I will take all your dead, raise them to be my willing slaves, and use them to defeat the dwarves!”

Kobold 3: “Torg! Did you know this? How can you let this stand?”

Torg: “I was aware. But I am still your king, and you will obey me. If we must, we will kill our own to further the defeat of the dwarves!”

Kobold 3: “How can you do this? You would commit genocide on our own people, just for your ambition?”

Torg: “Yes, I would. I would kill you all. Now, you can serve me in life, or you can serve me in death. It is your choice.”

Kobold 1: “Ah. I think we may not be alone…”

Necromancer: “Send a Death Knight out, one alone should be enough to bring them down!”

At this, the creatures in argument suddenly realize there are twenty-two kobolds, a halfling, a gnome, a dwarf and a human standing around listening to them. Elo signals for everyone to scatter and hide, and they do so… except her. Her 22 clerics stands with her as the death knight comes from the room.

The kobold clerics, who have decided to call themselves the Disciples of the Vassal, have taken to saying ‘For the Vassal’ and all turn themselves into copies of Elo. The battle is protracted by both sides being good enough to defend, but not quite good enough to attack. It continues until the death knight eventually lets of one of those nasty balls of divine fire, which takes out nine of the kobold clerics, and singes Merri’s beard.

“I really wish people would stop. trying. to. set. fire. to MY BLOODY BEARD!” – Merri

In retaliation for their brothers, the remaining kobolds lay down cover of obscuring mist, surround the death knight with Merri at it’s face, and they all try to heal it to death; Death knights, being made of negative energy, are hurt by the positive energy of cure spells. Elo tries to throw holy water at it, but only really succeeds in making the kobolds behind it damp. Eventually the kobolds manage to whittle it down and it cracks and crumples. Merri gives it one good wallop with her hammer for good measure, and it’s disintegrates into dust.

The group pauses to take stock of the situation…